Performers are bringing the world of dance back home, celebrating the diversity of cultural performance as part of the annual showcase from the Jo Jackson Dance Company & Promotions at the Guild Theatre next week.
The Around the World Dance Extravaganza collects cultures and dance styles from across the globe, with 100 dancers and members of Jackson’s company ready to share their work from the past year.
Through the magic of a round-trip flight, narrators Kerry Hiles, who plays the air hostess, and captain Duane Joaquim, from Cape Town, pinpoint each layover with a specific performance.
Jackson said: “We are flying around the world through dance! We needed something that could involve everyone, so we decided to choose dances from different countries.”
Top groups from the 2023 Dancestar World Championships will be performing selected routines, choreographed by Rudi Smit, Kirt Ruiters and Emma Victor.
“We start with India and a Bollywood dance routine, the festival of lights to represent Diwali and the Jungle Book for where we put our little four-year-olds,” Jackson said.
“We then go to Europe, where we do our routines from Croatia at Dancestars; we’ve also got ladies doing burlesque and a Milan-inspired fashion show.”
Included in the show is a number from the company’s rendition of Beat It, The Incredible Story of Michael Jackson, which they toured across the country in 2023.
“We take it to Las Vegas where Kerry Hiles will sing a few numbers as Tina, and Daniel will be Elvis, and finally some Michael Jackson.
“This is definitely an extravaganza showing off East London’s talent.”
Dance genres include contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, ballroom, freestyle and more.
“It’s got almost everything,” Jackson said.
“This is about having a good time and giving everyone the opportunity of getting on stage, even the dancers who are exceptionally shy.
“Plus we want to keep it entertaining for audiences and our dancers.”
“We’ve been rehearsing since October last year; it was crazy.
“We have had holidays and the matrics writing exams — the reason we are doing this so early is because my matrics are leaving for varsity, so this is to give them one last time together.”
Most of Jackson’s leaving dancers have been a part of her studio from a young age, forming close-knit bonds through shared experiences, touring and performing together.
“It’s emotional saying goodbye. I get sad talking about it; their growth is incredible.
“If I could have them for two or three more years! But they need to move on.
“It’s wonderful to see how they have remained passionate about their craft and how they have been serious about it while having fun. I’m just so grateful I was part of that journey.”
Choreographer and teacher at the studio, Ruiters, 33, from Southernwood, created most of the routines for the showcase, with Jackson directing.
“I first started with Jo when I was little. When I look at the students, sometimes I see myself when I first started with her,” Ruiters said.
Ruiters was involved in all of the studio’s major projects and came first in the Dancestar competition for the lyrical senior age-group last year.
“With this show, Jo has given me the freedom to be creative and teach these children daily throughout the year; I get to see their confidence grow and how excited they get about performing.”
Around the World Dance Extravaganza is at the Guild Theatre from January 18-20 from 7pm. There is an additional performance at 2pm on January 20. Tickets are R180, available from Computicket.
Contact: 043-743-0704. — This article first appeared in the Daily Dispatch